Initiation of deoxyribonucleic acid replication is absent in Bacillus subtilis cells made permeable by toluene. The absence of initiation may be (i) a temporary removal of toluene, or (ii) irreversibly lost due to damage by toluene treatment to a cellular structure or a process required for chromosome initiation. Washed cells, previously treated with toluene and subsequently washed free of detectable amounts of toluene, have the same characteristics of toluene-treated cells in which toluene is not removed. The continued absence of initiation in the washed cells indicates a permanent loss of initiation in cells treated with toluene. Protein synthesis is also inhibited irreversibly by toluene treatment, indicating damage to translation as a possible mechanism for loss of initiation of toluene-treated cells.